Brazil orders arrest of top Google exec

An elections court in Brazil has ordered the arrest of Google’s most senior executive in the country after he failed to take down YouTube videos attacking a local mayoral candidate.

The case follows a similar decision by another Brazilian election judge which found another senior executive responsible for violating local election law. That decision was overturned last week.

Google is trying to deal with the fact that it does not want to get into the censorship game. The upshot of this is that rival religious groups post videos which cause the others to riot.

According to Reuters, a judge had ordered the arrest of Fabio José Silva Coelho, Google’s top executive in Brazil, unless the videos attacking a mayoral candidate were removed.

Google’s official statement is that it is not responsible for the content posted to its site so arresting its executives is going to do nothing.

But Brazil has been keen to drag executives in court lately for misdeeds. So far it has filed criminal charges in March against Chevron and Transocean.  Which certainly does focus the minds of big multi-nationals. If they did it with bankers the entire financial system might work.

Public prosecutors have almost total independence to bring cases in Brazil want jail terms of up to 31 years in the case, which resulted from a November oil spill.

In Google’s case, judges want executives responsible for resisting the removal of online videos in violation of a stringent 1965 Electoral Code. The law bans campaign ads that “offend the dignity or decorum” of a candidate.

Another judge overturned the order to arrest Balthazar, writing that “Google is not the intellectual author of the video, it did not post the file, and for that reason it cannot be punished for its propagation”.

A Brazilian court has banned an online anti-Islam movie that has spawned violent protests across the Muslim world and gave YouTube 10 days to pull the film’s trailer from its website. It might be interesting to see where that one will go too.

In that case a judge said the film was offensive and a violation of the constitutional right to freedom of religion.